Heat (1995)

One of the reasons that I began this DailyView binge this summer was to fill some of the gaping holes of my movie viewing life, especially with the beloved classics. Admittedly, some of the films that I have watched so far in the binge would not be considered classics. However, I have been able to see several that would be considered classics such as The Sound of Music, Apocalypse Now, Saving Private Ryan and Caddyshack. These would fit into that category. So does today’s first film, Michael Mann’s classic heist film, Heat, starring Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino.

Considered one of the greatest heist movies made, Heat was a long film, but it is masterfully developed from the beginning to a major banger of a conclusion. There were definitely a lot to follow here as Heat had a ton of moving parts of the plot with a large group of interwoven characters.

In fact, Heat is absolutely a film that you have to pay attention to and not one that you can put on in the background if you want to understand what was going on. Although, you can also break this down into the basic plot of good vs. evil as the film staged the idea of DeNiro and Pacino facing off with one another.

You see that as early as the iconic scene of DeNiro and Pacino together in the restaurant, “having coffee” but really setting the stage for the rest of the movie. The dialogue in this scene is just tremendous and you can certainly see why this is considered such an amazing scene.

The cast of this movie is just filled with unbelievably talented actors. Sure the eyes are on DeNiro and Pacino, but the fact is that every role, no matter how minor, is cast with amazing actors. Val Kilmer received nearly top billing along with the two icons as his name appeared on the poster. We also had Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Ted Levine, Dennis Haysbert, Natalie Portman, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Diane Venora, Tom Noonan, William Fichtner, Hank Azaria, Danny Trejo, Tone Loc, Xander Berkeley, Jeremy Piven, Steven Ford, Patricia Healy, and Martin Ferrero, among others.

The bank robbery scene and the ensuing chaos that is the result of the heist is one of the most insane, breathtaking scenes I have seen in any crime movie. It is set up beautifully by Michael Mann and his crew and it truly shows how skilled Mann is in this genre.

I did struggle at the very beginning keeping everything straight, but Heat pays off in the second and third acts like few other movies. There was an intensity of performance and situation that is able to isolate the similarities and differences between our protagonist and antagonist. There is almost a respect between them that demands to be faced.

Having said that, there may have been a plot point or two that could have been taken out which wouldn’t have affected the overall story (I’m thinking about much of Pacino’s home life issues). The extra bits do help deepen the characters, but some of the side plot points do wind up unresolved so do they really serve a purpose?

Heat is not a movie that I would normally seek out, but I am glad I did. I got a chance to see two powerhouse actors in their prime and delivering a master class in acting, despite only being on screen with each other a minimal amount of time. The film has been carefully constructed and works on many levels.

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